Swire puffs

No, it’s not a recipe.

Swire has sent out a puff job about what he has “achieved” for East Devon over the last year, despite barely ever being here and getting himself knee-deep in Brexit machinations, about which we still have no idea who he supports and exactly what he supports.

His only interest currently seems to be helping to prop up the DUP in Ireland and keeping an eye out for which May successor might get him off the back benches.

Oh, and his “work” with the Conservative Middle East Council and being Deputy Chairman of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council ( see next post for more on that) and being provider of strategic investment advice for the Latin American market (Register of Interests). Not forgetting that little company he co-owns with controversial Lord Barker (Eaglesham Investments).

Owl will not be linking to the puff job.

Will we ever be sure how some Tory MPs voted on May?

Take, say, Hugo Swire. He has not said how he would vote. Say Mrs May wins – he can say he voted for her but could have voted against her as the ballot is secret.

Or, if she loses he can say he voted against her to be in with a chance with a new Leader.

Although Parish says he voted for her, he can’t prove that either – he might have secretly voted against her!

Doesn’t matter what those declared and undeclared voters voted for – it can never be proved.

Transparent? Of course not!

Swire stays on fence in May vote – waits to see which side wind blows him!

He SO needs that Foreign Office job to take him off the back bench!

“… A spokesman for Sir Hugo said he would not be making any comment until after tonight’s secret ballot.”


“State-sponsored dissident” Swire at it again!

Swire and May… Swire and Rudd … Swire and … just about anyone who might get him out of the hell of being a backbench MP!

“… What the government wants

A crucial insight into Downing Street’s thinking lies in an amendment put forward to the “meaningful vote” by the Tory MP Sir Hugo Swire. The government’s fingerprints were all over it.

Beyond parliament directing the government on whether to seek an extension of the transition period to avoid the backstop, Swire more significantly proposed to place “a duty” on the government to agree a future relationship, or alternative arrangements, within one year of the Northern Ireland backstop coming into force.

It was essentially an attempt to give parliament a putative date by which the government would make all “best endeavours” to get out of the backstop, or have a very good reason for failing to do so.

The withdrawal agreement already says that the EU will make those “best endeavours” to have a free trade deal in place by 2020 – the end of the 21-month transition period. The government may well seek for the reiteration of that commitment, plus an additional statement of the EU’s intention to get out of the backstop by 2021. …”


Swire’s business pal in more difficulty in United States

As a commentator points out – an article from the Daily Telegraph of 5 December 2018:

US congressional investigators have launched an inquiry into possible links between British-based companies owned by Russian oligarchs and their relationship with Russia’s intelligence agencies.

The move follows increasing concerns by U.S. congressmen over the extent of Russian meddling in both the U.S. and Europe, with a number of oligarchs with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin forming the main focus of the inquiry.

Among the UK-based companies that have aroused the interest of congressional investigators is EN+, the energy company owned by Oleg Deripaska and chaired by Tory peer Lord Barker of Battle.

Mr Deripaska, a close ally of Mr Putin, is already under investigation from congressional committees over allegations, which the oligarch denies, that he was involved in efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential elections.

Recent documents released by the FBI revealed Mr Deripaska loaned $10 million to Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s campaign manager, who has been charged with fraud and money-laundering. Mr Deripaska is one of several Russian oligarchs who were hit with U.S. sanctions in April.

Now US investigators say they are interested in apparent links between British-based companies owned by Russian oligarchs and Russian intelligence agencies.

Their interest in EN+ comes after FBI officers identified Evgeny Fokin, who is the company’s Director of International Cooperation, as formerly being the SVR’s declared liaison officer with U.S. intelligence agencies in Washington DC in the mid-1990s.

Apart from being employed by EN+, Mr Fokin, who is said to be a close ally of Mr Deripaska, has previously been employed by Basic Element, another company owned by Mr Deripaska.

“There is particular concern in Congress about the links between Russian businesses owned by oligarchs and the Russian intelligence agencies,” a U.S. official told the Daily Telegraph.

“There is concern about the large numbers of former Russian intelligence officers who now hold senior positions in major Russian businesses.

“There are growing suspicions in Congress that the distinction between the Russian state and businesses owned by Putin’s supporters may be on paper only.”

Lord Barker, a former energy minister under David Cameron, provoked criticism from MPs earlier this year after he helped EN+ raise £1 billion on the London Stock Exchange, money that was then used to pay off Russian banks subject to U.S. sanctions.

The claim by FBI officials that Mr Fokin is a former SVR officer would make him the third former Russian intelligence officer to have been identified as working for Mr Deripaska’s business interests.

Valery Pechenkin, another former SVR officer, has been appointed to run Basic Element, while Viktor Boyarkin, a former officer with the same Russian GRU military unit accused of carrying out the Salisbury nerve agent attack in March, has previously worked for Mr Deripaska’s Rusal aluminium conglomerate.

A spokesman for Mr Fokin denied that he had been a member of the SVR, and said Mr Fokin had not been contacted by anyone connected with the U.S. congressional investigation.

A person familiar with the situation told The Telegraph: “Mr Fokin resigned from the Russian Diplomatic Service over twenty years ago to pursue a career in the private sector. He has been with En+ since 2012.”

Both US congressional intelligence committees in the Senate and the House of Representatives have had long-running investigations into every aspect of alleged Russian interference in U.S. elections as well as other organisations.

In October Senator Richard Burr, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, announced his investigation was looking a new lines of inquiry. Following the outcome of the mid-term elections in November, the Democrat-led House intelligence committee has intensified its inquiry into Russian meddling, with U.S. officials confirming that Mr Deripaska, as well as other oligarchs, remain a particular focus of both investigations.

Mr Deripaska has recently been visiting London to give evidence in a court case involving a £74 million property dispute with former Russian minister Vladimir Chernukhin.”


Swire continues to plot … but for whom? and why?

Daily Express article today – heck that fence must be pretty uncomfortable!

“Under the terms of the deal Mrs May agreed with the EU that the UK will automatically fall into a ‘backstop’ EU customs union should the Government fail to agree a new trading relationship with Brussels during the transition period. The transition period is currently set at 21 months, though Mrs May has hinted it could be extended. Should the UK enter a customs union with Brussels it would struggle to sign comprehensive trade deals with third parties, and will still have to obey a significant proportion of EU legislation.

Tory loyalists Sir Hugo Swire and Richard Graham have tabled the amendment, which would give MPs a vote on whether the UK joins the customs union backstop or extends the transition period if a new trading relationship with the EU can’t be agreed.

It also requires the Government to push for “further assurances from the EU that the backstop would only be a temporary arrangement”.

Should the UK enter a customs union the amendment requires the Government to make plans to exit within a year.

Nikki da Costa, formerly the Prime Minister’s director of legislative affairs, suggested Ministers could be behind the move.

He told the Daily Mail: “I know a Government amendment when I see one”.


Swire and Rudd – a marriage made in …

Multiple sightings of our esteemed MP lurking in the background – almost seeming to try to duck out of shot – of early TV news items featuring Amber Rudd spouting today’s riff on Brexit.

Swire has already been described as “a state sanctioned dissident” and Rudd is known to be quite prepared to do May’s dirty work:

So, are they dirty working today WITH May or AGAINST her?

Be careful Mrs May – keeping your friends close but your enemies even closer has its failings. And Owl thinks he has never forgiven you for ousting him from his “job” at the Foreign Office, cosying up to the sheiks of the Saudi Arabian peninsula and his favourite islands, The Maldives. Which he still does but in the very much less prestigious ‘job” of Chairman of the Conservative Middle East Council.